Why Nations (and organizations) Fail: Self-Serving Elites

by Charles Hugh Smith

For those who doubt that America is ruled by a narrow elite: three charts.

The book Why Nations Fail: The Origins of Power, Prosperity, and Poverty neatly summarizes why nations fail in a few lines:

(A nation) is poor precisely because it has been ruled by a narrow elite that has organized society for their own benefit at the expense of the vast mass of people. Political power has been narrowly concentrated, and has been used to create great wealth for those who possess it.

Sound like any countries you know? Perhaps we should flip this question around and ask: how many nations don’t fit this profile?

I submit that this dynamic of failure–the concentrated power and wealth of self-serving elites– is scale-invariant, meaning that it is equally true of communities, towns, cities, states, nations and empires alike: all fail when they’re run for the benefit of a narrow elite.

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